The battlefield has no need for subtly
Winifred Phillips has never been one to shy away from epic orchestral scores that evoke a sense of grandeur, rising stakes, patriotism and adrenaline and with her latest game soundtrack under her belt, SCRAPER First Strike is possibly her most direct soundtrack to date.
Being a soundtrack for an action-packed sci-fi first-person VR experience the game’s soundtrack is all about tension. Phillips kicks this off with a recurring motif of ‘First Strike’ with dramatic circular pulsating strings that slowly rising up through the notes and chords to create a taut heartbeat throughout the theme. This pulse beats throughout most of the soundtrack that follows too and joins everything together. As you move forward to ‘Mega City’ the focus moves from the human organics of huge strings to something more tech-driven as synths, bleeps, futuristic whistles and noise starts to colour the audio around you. Like a hyper future world, it’s designed to convey a place that is running full speed ahead and that pulsating rhythmic string and beat refuses to fade away. It’s ever-present as things turn from sensory assault to aggression firstly with ‘The Humechs’ and then more overtly with ‘Onslaught’. The latter clearly takes a nod from the school of Hollywood trailers with dramatic low bursts of horns over an epic percussion arrangement. It’s far from subtle and that’s just fine with me!
The soundtrack slowly winds itself back a little for the next selection of tracks. The very evocative ‘Human Resistance Force’ sees Winifred nail those understated brass arrangements to make you fight for your cause to a tee. It’s understated but full of grandeur and grace before diving into the cyber-synth ambience of “Seek and Destroy” and the industrial creep of “Hover Pod”. These tracks wouldn’t be out of place in a Metal Gear Solid game and the latter track really reminded me of one of my favourite scores of all time, ‘Remember Me’, as the strings twist and bend curiously around ambiguous noises. ‘Reactor Recon’ and ‘New Austin’ both spend time creating a tense, thick atmosphere. The hints of electric guitars and a trance anthem without the drums fading in and out make for a really husky soundtrack and even though these are the quiet moments of the soundtrack – that pulsating rhythm is still there. Sometimes it sounds more like a ticking clock, other times it is more subtle with the kick drum but you feel constantly like the music refuses to let you sit still and think. The soundtrack builds up over a few more tracks to reach its epic conclusion with ‘Save Humanity’. The scale and force behind the strings, brass and addition synths that are busy running around the background make it swell and burst into life. Your heart will be racing by the time its over.
There is no subtly or holding back with SCRAPER First Strike. Winifred Phillips has thrown all the instruments in her arsenal at you and the results are a cinematic and climactic experience that certainly makes my morning commute across London a hundred times more dramatic as I rush for the tube. It would fit right alongside any huge sci-fi blockbuster and works as a standalone piece too – excellent.
Recommended track: Save Humanity
If you like what I do, and would like to help me make better and more content then please consider supporting me via Patreon. Thank you.
If you have this release, you can comment with your own score below.